While spending vacation time in the Southwest Russian city of Rostov-na-Donu, or Rostov-on-Don, near the Azov Sea, I was very pleased to be invited by friends to the opening of an exhibit of the art of Ivan Yazev, 1914-1995. Yazev was an impressionist artist of the Soviet Era whose work includes a number of scenes of Rostov-na-Donu, portraits, and rural areas of the region. Yazev lived in Rostov-na-Donu in 1938 and often returned to visit throughout his life.
The opening exhibit was held this August 22nd, hosted by the Rostov Modern Art Department located at 60 Chekhova Street near the city center, between Bolshaya Sadovaya and Pushkinskaya. The Chekhova Street location houses the Department of Modern Art and the Foreign Art Department. The Museum of Fine Art central location at 115 Pushkinskaya, holds the Department of Russian Art.
Yazev’s work from two different city museums was brought together for this special occasion; the Rostov museum and the Fine Art Museum of the city of Volgodonsk, a major city in the east of the state of Rostov, both contributed to the exhibit. Private collections also contributed to the event.
Yazev’s work is included in the private art collections in America among which are the Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, LA and in the Elena Kohn Russian Art Collection in Scottsdale, AZ. Kohn’s book, The Hidden World of Russian Impressionism: The Soviet Era 1940-1960 published in 2005 shows the professional art of Russia during the Soviet period, not often considered by those not so familiar with the art world.
The announcement of the exhibition opening, honoring Ivan Yazev’s 100th birthday, was very well attended by the general public, art admirers, museum directors and staff.
With the exhibit opening at 5 pm I timed my arrival at 4:30 to meet with my friends and get some inside information on Ivan Yazev. Born in 1914, the start of WWI, Yazev’s work Impressionist style still life by Ivan Yazev.
began to show the impressionist style in 1934 at 20 years old and on through 1991. Though he was painting professionally from 1934, when World War II, The Great Patriotic War, erupted into the Soviet Union, Yazev served in the Army as a captain and artillery battalion commander. He was wounded, and spent time in a military hospital recovering. Ivan Yazev was decorated with two military orders and five medals for the campaigns he served in. Not letting time to paint escape him, his work shown in the exhibition included a scene of recovering soldiers sharing a light moment in their hospital environment. Looking at this scene with flowers and the dark drink, I thought of summer and kvas.
For me, a visitor who has enjoyed painting scenes of the Rostov region in my leisure, this visit to the Rostov Museum of Fine Art was a delightful experience. To see up close the work of Ivan Yazev, who walked the same streets we see today. Along the streets with names of Chekhova, Bolshoi Sadovaya, Semashka, in the Sel’mash region, and at Rostselmash, the Tractor Factory, Ivan Yazev was seeing with his “artistic eye” and capturing a time in history that is now past, yet saved for others to see and enjoy.
This is my eighth year to visit the shores of the River Don and continue to discover the sights, sounds, and cultural history of a city on the Don; Rostov-na-Donu in what I have found in my “Unexpected Russia.”
By John Barr, writing from Rostov-na-Donu, Russia. 30 Aug. 2014
John Barr is a guest author and long time member of the Orlando Russian Culture Society. We greatly appreciate his time and effort to bring us a glimpse of life and culture from Rostov on Don.